Abortion Centers Misuse Heart Drug Digoxin to Do "Partial-Birth" Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 30, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Abortion Centers Misuse Heart Drug Digoxin to Do "Partial-Birth" Abortions Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
July 30,

Detroit, MI (LifeNews.com) — After the Supreme Court upheld the national ban on partial-birth abortions, some abortion businesses are so desperate to continue doing legal second-trimester abortions that they are willing to put women’s health at risk by misusing a drug for heart conditions to do the abortions.

The partial-birth abortion ban made it clear that abortion practitioners can’t mostly deliver an unborn child before doing the abortion and killing her.

To get around the ban, they are using the drug digoxin to kill the baby inside the mother’s womb and then cause the mother to miscarry the dead baby’s body.

Digoxin is widely used in the treatment of various heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter and congestive heart failure.

But abortion practitioners admitted to the Detroit News in various interviews that they are misusing the drug in off-label use to do the second-trimester abortions.

Renee Chelian, executive director of Northland Family Planning Centers, said the three Michigan abortion centers under that name use digoxin.

The drug is administered with a long needle inserted into the abdomen and it has normal side effects such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. However, the drug can also cause premature delivery and there is a risk of infection.

Researchers at Yale University also studied the use of the drug and were surprised to see that women in the study who took digoxin died more frequently (33%) than women who took a dummy pill (29%).

They calculated that digoxin increased the risk of death in women by 23%.

Despite these health concerns, not only do abortion practitioners at Northland Family Planning Centers use digoxin but Chelian blamed the ban and pro-life advocates for them doing so.

"The woman’s health has taken a back seat [because of the partial-birth abortion ban]," Chelian claimed in comments to the Detroit News. "The fetus is given an equal status as the woman. It’s a horrible precedent that the woman’s health and safety is not paramount."

"We have to cause fetal death," Chelian added. It is not necessary, but it is the Supreme Court telling doctors, ‘This is how you do surgery.’ It’s really scary that the fetus has as much weight as the woman."

The Northland abortion centers have been giving women digoxin for years for abortions done at 20-24 weeks of pregnancy. Now women will get the heart drug as much as six weeks earlier so legal second-trimester abortions can be done.

Meanwhile, women at the six abortion centers run by WomanCare also are forced to misuse the drug. Its medical director, Alberto Hodari, confirmed to the newspaper that all women having abortions between 18 weeks and 24 weeks of pregnancy will get digoxin.

Janet Crepps, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, a prominent pro-abortion law firm in New York, confirmed to the News the reasons for misusing the drug.

"Because certain aspects of abortion procedures are variable in ways that physicians cannot control, physicians may feel compelled to cause fetal demise in order to avoid any appearance or suggestion that they have violated the law," Crepps said.

"One fail-safe way to protect against prosecution under the law is to ensure that fetal demise has occurred," she added.

The FDA approved digoxin in 1982 but abortion practitioners have been using it since the to kill the baby in second-trimester abortions.